December 6 Edition of the Lazy Sundays Radio Show

I discuss this past weekend’s sports happenings, as well as play music from A Tribe Called Quest, Toro  Y Moi, Mobi Dixon and more.


USMNT looks for consistency ahead of World Cup Qualifying

AS WORLD CUP qualifying nears ever closer for the United States Men’s national soccer team, supports hope the multitude of questions that came to the forefront more than ever following the defeats to Mexico and Costa Rica last month will be answered. The US is in the midst of their longest home losing streak since 1997.

Changes or at the very least a refocusing of the program over the next few months is imperative as the cupcake teams the US will face here in the next week or so turns into serious competition for spots in Russia.

Manager and Technical Director Jurgen Klinsmann’s seat has not been hotter than in recent weeks, even after early summer wins over traditional European powers Germany and Holland. Questions over team selection, style of play and the lack of development of young players have come to the forefront as struggles have persisted at both the senior and under-23 levels.

The U23 failed to qualify automatically for the Olympics last month, losing to Honduras on home soil. A playoff between the US and a strong Colombian U23 side for one of the final spots in the Olympic field will take place in March.

In the two most recent defeats, to Mexico and Costa Rica, the lack of organization and cohesion has been apparent. The passing game Klinsmann wants his sides to play has be absent recently.

We know the passing style works. Long spells of productive possession against Germany and Holland this past summer turned into beautiful goals. Mix Diskerud’s goal against Germany following a wonderful display of possession – 30 total passes in a sequence where every player on the pitch for the Yanks touched the ball – is exactly what Klinsmann and the supports want.

The problem is that implementation of this passing game – one that he helped to install in Germany that turned them into a world power – hasn’t come to fruition just yet. The team still relies heavily on counterattacking and set piece goals to win games. Recent struggles from Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore haven’t helped, as their holdup play is vital for team’s success.

The revolving door of players and overall lack of consistency in team selection has led to the system suffering. The year or so after a World Cup is a time to find who will be relied upon for the next four years. It’s typically a time to phase out older players while bringing in the next generation of talent, so some struggles are typically expected.

The problem is that these struggles have come with a bunch of 30-somethings that won’t likely play a large part in the next World Cup instead of a bunch of 20-somethings that will likely be in the prime of their careers by 2018. While Klinsmann has preached about bringing younger players in, his selection hasn’t reflected this.

The likes of Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman are talented but likely won’t be the first options come 2018. Thus far, only Gyasi Zardes, 23, and DeAndre Yedlin, 21, have been given the opportunity to show that they could be impact players in the future.

This can all change. For this weekend’s qualifiers more young players will likely be given the opportunity to shine. 23-year-old forward Jordan Morris, 25-year-old midfielders Miguel Ibarra and Darlington Nagbe and 20-year-old defender Matt Miazga have been called up, the latter two for the first time. Morris and Miazga are two of the brightest young stars in the US system right now.

With these four, along with now mainstay youngsters Mix, Bobby Wood, Yedlin and Zardes, Klinsmann may be finally turning the corner on phasing out the older players. In the press release that came with the announcement of the squad, he even addressed the fact that Dempsey was left off by saying that it was time to give the younger players a chance.

This is a huge step in the right direction, but can’t be a one time deal. It is imperative that these young players get serious game time in the coming months to gain comfortability and confidence against these lesser opponents before the much tougher second round of qualifying takes place.

There are still questions of where midfielder Michael Bradley fits best into the team and who plays alongside him in the midfield. With only Jones and Beckerman players in the squad at the holding midfield spot and a lack of creative central midfielders, we are likely to see Bradley once again in his roaming playmaker role.

Three young central players that need to see callups soon that could have big places in the 2018 World Cup squad are advanced playmakers Gedion Zelalem and Emerson Hyndman and holding midfielder Wil Trapp. Hyndman captained the U20 team that lost to Serbia, the eventual champions, in the U20 World Cup this summer. Zelalem also played an integral part in the team, while Wil Trapp captained the U23 team in their campaign to qualify for the Olympics this fall.

Playing a 4-2-3-1 with Bradley and Trapp sitting deep with either Zelalem and Hyndman ahead of them could give not only more defensive security but with the passing rage of the four and the pace on the wings with Nagbe and Zardes in the wide midfield and Yedlin and Fabian Johnson at the fullback positions, the US could be very formidable in attack.

Getting back to basics for Klinsmann will help to ensure that this young crop of players can make a sustained impact for the national team.

This article appears in the Nov 12 edition of the FDU Pillar.

November 1 Edition of the Lazy Sundays Radio Show

Follow the link below to listen to the show. Hope you enjoy!

November 1st Edition of the Lazy Sundays Radio Show by Andrew Dakan on Mixcloud

The Not-So-Suite Life

Because of growing retention rates in the past few years and the sophomore class being the largest in Florham Campus history, housing occupancy has reached its highest point, at least for now. The demand for housing prompted the university to look elsewhere for housing for the 2015-2016 school year.

According to Dean of Students Jas Verem, 55 students will spend at least the first semester, if not the full year at the College of Saint Elizabeth. At one point early this semester,  as many as 19 students lived temporarily at the Madison Hotel awaiting on campus housing. In addition, residence assistants (RAs) have been assigned roommates.

“Last year we had an eighty percent retention rate, which is unheard of for our campus. It’s fantastic but [having so many students] is difficult for housing; I have been here for four-and-a-half years now and I don’t think we have had fully occupied housing since I have been here,” Verem said.

Having a waitlist for housing isn’t the biggest deal for a college. The list diminishes over the summer months as students make off-campus arrangements.

This year, around 250 names sat on that list in April, according to Verem By July, the list had shrunk to around 100 and did not melt much beyond that before school started. Compare that to the 150 initially waitlisted the year prior, with everyone being placed before school started. At that point, Verem and the housing department began looking at options beyond the campus’s own walls for those who could not commute.

Verem met with people from Drew University, CSE, the Madison Hotel and the Wyndham  Hotel to narrow options. The building offered by Drew did not suit FDU’s needs while the Wyndham Hotel was not interested in housing a large number of students.

The search came down to the Madison Hotel and CSE. The issue of commuting  prevented the hotel  from housing students on a more permanent basis. The commute between the CSE dorm and the academic buildings at FDU is much shorter. Since 80 percent of the wait list was made up of men from FDU, a key factor was that CSE, a women’s college, was willing to house men.

CSE gave FDU 55 spots including the full first floor of O’Connor Hall to house students.  Thirty-nine  men from FDU live on the first floor while women from FDU are spread out throughout the other three floors. The earliest any of the students will move back to FDU’s campus would be in the spring.

There are both positives and negatives associated with living on the CSE campus. According to Verem, CSE is cheaper than a Park Ave or Rutherford suite. FDU senior Dave Vogt described the rooms as “comfy for one person.”

Each room has its own box fan, like those in the freshman dorms, and its own sink. The floor shares separate communal shower and restrooms that are cleaned very regularly.

According to students living at CSE, the cafeteria has better food than FDU’s cafeteria but its odd hours make it difficult for the FDU students to eat there on a regular basis.

The rules that residents are expected to follow–ranging from having to keep a shirt on in the hallway to limitations on guests–provide the biggest frustration.

Guests are expected to leave before midnight during the week and before 2 a.m. on the weekends while overnight guests are restricted to members of the same gender.

“I would still rather be [on campus] than living at CSE. There are too many rules. [The overnight guest rule] is the only one that is bothering me. If they got rid of that rule, I’m good,” said FDU junior Alex Blake.

Unlike the students living at CSE, those at the Madison Hotel are slowly but surely moving back to FDU. Junior Adhem Morsi is one of them.

Morsi didn’t initially receive housing because he applied late after his initial housing arrangement fell through over the summer.

He communicated with Verem most of the summer about housing options. Living at CSE was becoming possibility by then, but updates stopped coming a few weeks before school started

Morsi commuted from his home in Edison, NJ, for the first week or so of school. The trip, which saw him go as far as Penn Station before transferring to the Morris and Essex line, took three hours every day; that is, if the trains were on time.

The last Monday that he commuted, Morsi had an eight minute transfer window at Secaucus and his train from Edison reached the station ten minutes late.

“All of a sudden, instead of getting to class a half an hour early, I am a half an hour late. There was nothing I could do. I was getting up at six in the morning in order to make a 9:55 class,” Morsi said.

The move to the Madison was a huge boost for him; his commute was cut to only thirty minute walk. Morsi was essentially like any other hotel guest. The rooms were cleaned daily and all, and Madison “is a very nice hotel.”

While much more convenient than home, Morsi was still very much tied to campus while living at the Madison. If he wanted to eat, he still had to go the cafeteria, forcing him to lug all his stuff around between the hotel and campus if he wanted to get work done.

“If I didn’t have class until 5:25, well, its 9 a.m., I still gotta go,” Morsi said.

Labor Day weekend rolled around and Morsi, who finishes with class for the week on Thursday morning, headed out to Coney Island, NY with his family. Morsi’s younger brother, Bilal, was headed off to boarding school, his first extended period of time away from home.

Only hours after arriving, Morsi received  a call from housing saying that he can move into a room on campus, but that the Madison needed him out by the same time the next day. He spent the rest of the day with his family, leaving early Friday to complete his move in. He stayed the night on campus and went back to Coney Island for the rest of weekend.

“It kind of threw off the whole weekend. It wasn’t bad per say, but it certainly changed plans,” Morsi said.  

As of Sept. 9, only  five students were still living at the hotel,  with prospects of moving to campus sometime in the following week.

Some may be moved into freshman dorms until vacancies open up in upperclassmen buildings.

Next year could be even more problematic. With another large freshman class this year, the pool of students expected to apply for housing will continue to grow.

As of now, no serious plans have been made to expand the campus or to build any new buildings. According to Verem, if plans to expand the athletic facilities–including moving the softball field across campus–go through as planned, the current site of the softball field could be one option, as well as rebuilding the village two buildings at a time to potentially double the number of beds there.

“You have to have sustained demand; one year of a wait list doesn’t show sustained demand if next year we go down to having empty beds. If we have that demand over two or three years, that is something that needs to be addressed,” Verem said.

Verem is already searching for additional off-campus housing for next year. The corporate apartments being built across Park Avenue could be a potential spot for graduate students to live.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 17,2015 edition of the FDU Florham Student Newspaper, The Pillar.